When Your Child Refuses Visitation

What Can You Do If Your Child Doesn’t Want to Spend Time with You?

When Your Child Refuses VisitationDivorce is difficult on everyone, but tends to affect children much more than adults. From toddlers to teenagers, kids are often acutely aware that their situation is different from most, if not all of their friends. Constantly going back and forth can be exhausting, and can leave children feeling like they don’t truly belong anywhere. Often, that can manifest in a child’s desire or decision not to spend time with a non-custodial parent. When your child tells you or your ex that he or she doesn’t want to have visitation, what can (and should) you do?

The Law in New Jersey

Technically, a child must be at least 18 years old in New Jersey to have the legal right to choose where he or she wants to live…and to choose not to see one of his or her parents. That doesn’t mean, though, that a younger child may not be granted that right by the court. However, for a minor to have the legal right to refuse visitation, the minor must go to court and get a signed order from the judge.

As a rule, the courts tend to be open to a request for refusal of visitation. First, though, the court will typically have a hearing to gather additional information. The judge will carefully gather evidence, seeking to ascertain whether the custodial parent has wrongfully influenced the child, or is offering some type of reward or benefit if the child refuses to see the non-custodial parent. The court may also examine whether there is any threat of harm or physical abuse to the child, either from the custodial or the non-custodial parent. In these types of hearings, the court may also take testimony from the child, and may give weight to that evidence.

Talking to the Child and to the Custodial Parent

Generally, though, using the courts to enforce a visitation order against your child is not recommended. The quality of your visitation will likely be minimized when it is compelled.

Your first course of action may be to talk with the custodial parent, to see if they have a better understanding of why the child is refusing visitation, or to see if they are complicit in the refusal. It can also be beneficial to speak directly to your child, to see if there has been some miscommunication, or to attempt to mend a damaged relationship.

Contact the Law Office of David M. Lipshutz

We will only take your case if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm.

Wishing You And Yours A Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

We are sending holiday cheer to you in the hopes that you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year.

As we look forward to 2022 we humbly pray that the new year brings a new sense of peace and joy as we enter the new year ready for a return to normalcy and prosperity.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Spousal Support in New Jersey

What Types of Alimony Are Available? How Does the Court Determine Spousal Support?

Spousal Support in New JerseyAlimony…it seems like an archaic term, something that’s gone by the wayside as women have become fully integrated into the workplace. Do the courts in New Jersey still grant alimony/spousal support awards? If so, how do the courts determine both eligibility for alimony and the appropriate amount/duration of payments? Are there different types of alimony a court can award?

Alimony—Still Alive and Well in New Jersey

Though the frequency with which alimony awards are granted has diminished, and though the types of awards given tend to be different, parties to a divorce still have a right in New Jersey to ask the court for spousal support. The court may, at its discretion, order either party to a divorce to pay alimony to the other party, based on a wide range of factors, including:

  • The length of the marriage—Though there is no minimum requirement, the longer parties have been married, the greater the chances of securing alimony
  • The health and age of both parties—For recipients, older age and poorer health weigh in favor of support. For payors, the opposite is true.
  • The potential earning capacities of the parties
  • The standard of living to which the parties were accustomed during the marriage
  • The actual needs of the recipient, in comparison with the ability of the other party to pay
  • Whether or not the parties played a significant role in parenting during the marriage
  • Whether or not the recipient owns any income-producing property
  • The outcome of the property settlement in the marriage

The Different Types of Spousal Support

Though the courts have the discretion to grant an alimony award with an open duration, it’s becoming more common for spousal support to have a limited duration. A recipient whose age or infirmity makes it difficult or impossible to become self-sufficient may receive alimony permanently, but most alimony awards are:

  • Temporary—Established for a set period of time…usually a period of years
  • Rehabilitative—Put in place until the recipient is able to be self-sufficient, through training, education or career advancement

The Termination of Alimony

Alimony can be terminated or reduced by various events, such as

  • The remarriage of the recipient
  • Cohabitation by the recipient with a partner in an intimate relationship
  • The retirement of the payor

Accordingly, it is critical to properly and tightly draft any alimony provision in the divorce decree.

Contact the Law Office of David M. Lipshutz

We will only take your case if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

On this Thanksgiving Day, we take time to express our daily gratitude for the simple pleasures of life—good friends, family, people we hold dear. As we gather together, help us be grateful and let us share our bounty with our brothers and sisters.

The Allocation of Retirement Assets in a New Jersey Divorce Settlement

Can Retirement Assets Be Divided between the Parties?

The Allocation of Retirement Assets in a New Jersey Divorce SettlementYour marriage is irretrievably broken and divorce is the best pathway forward. You’ve built up a substantial retirement plan, but it’s only in your name. Is it protected from distribution to your spouse in the property settlement? Are there any special conditions that must apply?

The Right to a Portion of Qualified Retirement Plan Assets

Under the equitable distribution principles in place in New Jersey, both parties to a marriage are entitled to receive a portion of any assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of how the property is titled. Accordingly, the fact that all retirement assets are held in the name of one spouse will not prevent those assets from being divided between the parties. One caveat—only those retirement assets that were contributed and accrued during the marriage will be subject to equitable distribution. Any retirement assets contributed or accrued before the marriage are generally exempt.

The distribution of retirement assets must be carefully handled or one or both parties may incur tax consequences. As a general rule, the way those potential problems are avoided is with the use of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”), a court order that directs the administrator of any retirement assets to transmit a portion of them to the other spouse. The QDRO must be signed by the judge to be legally binding.

A QDRO is not required, however. The parties may include language in the marital settlement agreement allowing the owner of the retirement funds to keep all of them, typically in exchange for conveying other marital property of similar or equal value to the other spouse.

Contact the Law Office of David M. Lipshutz

We will only take your case if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween

Retirement and Alimony in New Jersey

Retirement and Alimony in New JerseyIn the state of New Jersey, alimony may be awarded in a divorce on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the court, based on a number of factors, including, among other things:

  • How long the parties were married
  • The needs of the potential recipient vs. the ability of the other party to pay
  • The age and health of both parties
  • The lifestyle to which the parties were accustomed during the marriage
  • The potential earning capacities of each party

Though the court will enter a binding order, the amount and the requirement to pay alimony may change, based on either the circumstances or a subsequent court order. For example, if the recipient remarries or cohabitates with another person, the obligation to pay alimony will automatically be terminated (unless the divorce decree states otherwise). Furthermore, the payor may often petition the court for a reduction in alimony payments if his or her income drops significantly.

Alimony and Retirement

Often, upon retirement, a person’s income decreases, sometimes substantially. As a general rule, when a payor’s income goes down dramatically due to circumstances beyond his or her control it can provide the necessary rationale for a reduction of alimony. But can a party petition the court for a reduction of income because of retirement? Can a person retire early and ask for a reduction? It depends on the circumstances.

In New Jersey, the normal retirement age is considered to be 65. When a person reaches the age of 65, he or she may petition the court for the reduction of an alimony obligation, provide income has gone down significantly. Approval of such a motion is not automatic, though. The court will look at the facts and circumstances of the retirement to ascertain whether it was reasonable, considering such factors as:

  • The age and health of both parties
  • The extent to which the retiring party had any discretion in the decision to retire
  • The nature of the work the retiring spouse was engaged in
  • Whether the divorce agreement specified an anticipated retirement date (and whether this is earlier than that date)
  • The impact a reduction in alimony will have on the recipient

Contact the Law Office of David M. Lipshutz

We will only take your case if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm.

A Child’s Best Interests in New Jersey Divorce Decisions

The Factors the Court Considers

A Child’s Best Interests in New Jersey Divorce DecisionsWhen you file for divorce in New Jersey, and there are minor children living at home, issues of custody, visitation, and support must be resolved, by either agreement of the parties or intervention of the court. As a general rule, when deciding issues that affect minor children, the court employs the standard of “the best interests of the children.” What does that mean? What factors will the court consider when attempting to discern the best interests of the child?

The Best Interests of the Child

In New Jersey, it has long been assumed by the courts that the “best interests” of the child are served by having both parents actively involved in the lives of their children. Exceptions exist where there is evidence of abuse or neglect on the part of one parent, or indication that one parent has carelessly or intentionally put the child in harm’s way.

No single solution meets the best interests of every child. The best course of action is determined on a case-by-case basis, using the following criteria:

  • The prior relationship and interaction between the child and each parent
  • The willingness of the parents to work cooperatively to promote the best interests of the child
  • The ability of the parents to communicate and reach agreement on issues involving the child
  • The safety of the child when spending time with each parent
  • Any history of domestic violence or abuse by either parent
  • The needs of the child
  • The stability of each parent’s home environment
  • The fitness of each parent to care for minor children
  • Each parent’s commitment to the quality and continuity of the child’s education
  • The job responsibilities of each parent
  • The geographic proximity of each parent’s home to the child’s school, friends, and normal daily life
  • The age and number of children involved
  • The preferences of the child, if the child is at least 12 years of age

Contact Attorney David M. Lipshutz

We will only take your case if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

What to Expect in a Child Custody Determination in New Jersey

The Different Types of Custody | How the Court Determines Custody

What to Expect in a Child Custody Determination in New JerseyIn a New Jersey divorce proceeding where minor children are involved, the parties must resolve issues related to custody and visitation. The parties may agree to terms without the intervention of the court, but the court must still enter an order putting the arrangement in place. If the parents cannot agree regarding where children will reside and what parenting time will look like, the court will hold hearings and make the final decision.

The Different Types of Custody

In New Jersey, as is most states, there are two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to the child’s primary residence, whereas legal custody addresses the right of the parents to be involved in decisions related to education, medical care, religious training, and other important life issues.

As a general rule, courts prefer joint legal custody, with both parents actively and meaningfully involved in decision-making. Though there has been an increase in joint physical custody, most courts still believe it to be in the best interests of a child to have a principal residence with one parent and visitation with the other.

How Does a Court Determine the Best Interests of the Child?

Courts tend to favor decisions that ensure both parents are involved in the life of the child. Other factors the court considers when making a custody ruling include:

  • Age and gender of the child
  • Physical and mental health of the child
  • Ability of each parent to provide for the child’s financial, physical, and emotional needs
  • Mental and physical health of each parent
  • Emotional bond the child has with each parent
  • Lifestyle and routines to which the child is accustomed
  • Impact on the child of any change in residency
  • Possible allegations of domestic violence or abuse
  • Respective lifestyles of both parents, including alcohol, tobacco and drug use, or inappropriate exposure to sexual matters
  • Preference of the child, if the child has reached a certain age, typically 12 years old

Contact Attorney David M. Lipshutz

We take your case only if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990.. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

New Jersey Child Custody Determinations

The Types of Custody | Factors the Court Considers

New Jersey Child Custody DeterminationsIn a divorce proceeding where there are minor children in the home, one of the most difficult decisions can be determination of child custody. Where will the child spend most of their time? What will visitation look like?

The Different Types of Child Custody

In New Jersey, as in other states, there are two components to a custody arrangement—physical custody and legal custody.

Physical custody addresses where the child will reside most of the time—what will be considered the child’s “home.” Though the parents can essentially “share” custody, with the child spending half of their time with each parent, it’s more common for the court to grant primary custody to one parent and allow the other visitation rights. The parents may mutually agree to a custody arrangement, subject to the approval of the court. If they cannot agree, the court will make the determination, based on what it perceives to be in the best interests of the child.

Legal custody refers to the right of each parent to be involved in decision-making regarding the child’s educational, health, religious, and other special needs. The preference of the courts in New Jersey is to grant joint legal custody.

How Is the “Best Interests of the Child” Defined in New Jersey?

Courts tend to believe that the best interests of the child are served by regular and meaningful contact with, and involvement of, both parents. Other factors the court might consider include:

  • Age and gender of the child
  • Physical and mental health of the child and both parents, including the ability to parent, as well as any instances or allegations of domestic violence or abuse
  • Respective lifestyles of both parents, including substance abuse issues or inappropriate exposure to sexual inappropriate behaviors or materials
  • Emotional bond between the child and each parent
  • Ability of each parent to meet the child’s financial, physical, and emotional needs
  • Lifestyle and routines to which the child has become accustomed
  • Impact a change of residency will have on the child
  • Preference of the child, if the child has reached a certain age, typically 12 years of age

Contact an Experienced New Jersey Family Law Attorney

At the law office of David M. Lipshutz, we won’t take your case unless we know we can help. For a private meeting, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.